I am planning a trip to New York this summer to visit my two brothers. (For those of you who have read Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz, think: Stanley and Jake, only ten times more jaded, negative, and income-challenged). I don’t typically use my blogs to rant, but today, I will make an exception because I am once again dumbfounded by just how low the human race will stoop.

Before I even subject myself and my eleven-year-old daughter to the intrusion, humiliation, and Constitutional violation of a full-body airport scan (because some deranged fiend with an axe to grind might sew a gelatinous bomb in the flap of his underwear), I’ve got to find a place for us to stay. Hotels don’t cut it with me, given my adhesion to a daily food plan that requires shopping and cooking, or my dedication to a 3:00 a.m. writing schedule. I am trying to locate a clean “vacation-rental-by-owner” in a safe neighborhood. In past visits, this has not proven difficult. I’d go on Craigslist, scour the many available options proffered by decent folks with a basement or attic to rent, send my brother to check it out for me beforehand, and we'd be on our way. For three years running, we stayed at the home of a lovely family who, unfortunately, had to sell their house and downscale due to the recession.

Well, the landscape certainly has changed since 2007 (the last time I had to locate vacation housing). Since then, Craigslist has become a lion's den of scam artists posting fake pictures of pristine apartments supposedly corresponding to addresses of properties which, if they exist at all, the poster doesn't happen to own. These crooks demand half the rent and cleaning deposit up-front via Western Union. Then, when I and my daughter show up with luggage in tow, ring the doorbell, and are greeted by a family with no clue who in the hell I am, or what I and my suitcases are doing at their front door interrupting their dinner, well, I guess the joke will be on me. What started out as a free community forum to bring people together to fulfill mutually beneficial goals has become warped by online bandits preying on innocent travelers. And let's not forget the car thieves, rapists and murderers who have posted or answered Craiglist ads. I am truly saddened that the sickest minds among us now utilize Craigslist to lure innocent victims into their felonious traps.

If that were not bad enough, I spoke on the phone with my brother yesterday, whose latest awful story about New York and its denizens concerned a middle-aged, Hispanic woman who was hit by a bus outside the fruit market where he regularly shops. I have been to that market myself while visiting, and can attest that this is not a particularly rough neighborhood where one has to be on guard. Anyway, the woman tumbled onto the asphalt, her handbag and melons went flying in every direction, and not one person attempted to help her, despite her bleeding elbow, swollen ankle or disoriented state. According to him, most fled indoors or simply went about their business. A few gawked. Nobody retrieved her bag or her groceries. He calmed the woman down, called 9-1-1 from his cell phone, and made sure that her purse and parcels made it into the ambulance with her. While I am proud of my brother for stepping up, it also chills me to think that if I am hit by a bus—or befallen by some other calamity—while in New York, it is entirely possible not one Good Samaritan will come to my aid.

What is wrong with people? The leeches among us are sufficiently intelligent to constantly devise new-and-improved ways of ripping us off using the latest technology. Why can’t they use those same smarts to figure out ways to make an honest living? Because, simply stated, they take pleasure in causing harm to fellow humans. This goes beyond the anonymous theft of money, which is bad enough; these scam artists wreak havoc on people’s vacations, leaving them high-and-dry with no place to stay when they arrive at destinations far from home. In the meantime, a random sampling of New Yorkers suggests we have become so apathetic or afraid, we can’t be bothered placing an emergency phone call for—much less offering assistance or comfort to—a woman injured before our very eyes. Please tell me we are not that pathetic.